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Pell Grants not used for school must be repaid

Nov. 10, 1999

Change to encourage

staying in school

By MIKE BLUM

Reporter

Students who receive Pell Grants or plan to in the future will now be responsible for refunding unused aid to the federal government. Students who do not repay unused portions of their Pell Grants will not be eligible for them in the future.

In the past, students who dropped out of school before the completion of a scheduled term were not required to repay the government.

According to the Department of Education, the change in policy is designed to encourage students to stay in school.

The amount of money students will have to pay back will be a percentage of the amount of unused aid. The percentage of the grant money to be repaid will be determined by the point in the term that the recipient drops out.

The federal government already receives unused Pell Grant funds when students do not use them for attending school. Currently, Baylor is responsible for returning unused funds to the federal government.

'We do that already. We have to refund a portion [of the unused funds] back to the federal government,' said Cliff Neel, assistant vice president and director of scholarships and student financial aid. 'It depends on when the student dropped out.'

The financial aid office hasn't decided how it will change its current operations to meet the new policy, Neel said.

'Whether or not they [students who drop out with Pell Grants] will pay back the university or the government directly, we are not sure,' she said.

Neel said that the decision will be made before the fall semester next year.

Neel noted that the new policy has no effect on students who use their Pell Grant funds for their intended purposes.

'The program is designed for students who are enrolled and remain in school,' Neel said. 'They're trying to prevent abuses in the program.'

In addition to preventing future abuses, the federal government's new policies will encourage grant recipients to remain in school, Neel said.

Some students abused the previous system by using their grant money for non-education related expenditures after dropping classes.

The new policy of repayment is a logical one, according to Arthur Chavason, a Baytown senior.

'It gives them [recipients] a monetary reason to stay in school,' Chauvason said. 'I think that it's fair.'